The Week in Women: professional philanderers, stiletto fascism, and a tragic teenage bride

Luiza Goilabiyeva, 17 (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)

“And I think to myself/ What an absolutely insane world,” is how Louis Armstrong’s classic tune would probably go if it had been inspired by the current news cycle. When it comes to women’s news, this was a week of double takes, a week of headlines so outrageous you might think you had misread them on first glance. Without further ado— and with a little bit of outrage—let’s commence with the crazy.

Two students of Florida’s Valencia College are suing the school over allegations that they were forced to receive transvaginal exams as part of their studies in the Medical Diagnostic Sonography program. The lawsuit claims that the women were subjected to the probing of their sex organs with little to no privacy and, at times, sexually inappropriate behavior ensued. It’s a terribly shocking story. That it happened in Florida is slightly less shocking.

France’s Cannes Film Festival declared 2015 to be “the year de la femme”—and then promptly turned its collective nose up at women who were not willing to subject themselves to the medieval torture contraptions that are high heels. At a screening of Todd Haynes’ movie Carol, several women were turned away from the red carpet because they wore flat shoes. Carol, incidentally, is about a lesbian woman fighting socially conservative norms in the 1950s. Ah, la ironie.

In other absurd sartorial news, an unnamed law student in Algeria was banned from taking an exam because her skirt was too short, according to a supervisor. Another student named Sophia Jama then launched a Facebook group that called for women to protest with photographs of their bare legs. “A woman’s body has become a battle field in Algeria,” Jama said. “By staying silent, we lose our small achievements and status of women in public space declines.”

A 17-year-old girl in Chechnya was forced to marry 47-year-old police chief Nazhud Guchigov. Reports say that Guchigov threatened the girl with kidnapping and “unpleasant consequences” if she did not comply. In response to a social media backlash against the forced wedding, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov advised men to “[l]ock women in, do not let them go out and they will not post anything.” He also counselled his fellow dudes to keep “women far away from WhatsApp!” Yeah. WhatsApp is definitely the problem here.

In a similarly disturbing vein, Josh Duggar—of TLC’s 19 Kids & Counting fame—has quit his job with a Christian lobby group after reports surfaced that he had molested underage girls when he was a teenager. As of now, 19 Kids & Counting has been pulled from TLC’s schedule. Duggar was reportedly turned in by his own father, making the Duggar clan almost as dysfunctional as the folks on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

A Chinese man has been arrested on charges of fraud after it was revealed that he had been soliciting money from 17 different girlfriends, all of whom were unaware of the others’ existence. The so-called “Mr. Yuan” was busted after he was rushed to the hospital and no less than 17 distraught women came to visit him. “I was really worried when I heard he was in the hospital,” said Xiao Li, one of Yuan’s girlfriends. “But when I started seeing more and more beautiful girls show up, I couldn’t cry any more.” Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

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